"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)

Monday, May 16, 2005

Working Overtime At the Ministry of Truth 

You know that old joke about how the journalist who reported that Stalin was a horse's ass was prosecuted for revealing state secrets? I guess it's no joke.

I always thought that Little Donny Rumsfeld's incompetence was a matter of public record but, apparently, it's classified:
A government commission studying overseas military bases sent Congress a report that included criticism of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's strategy, then removed the document from the commission Web site after the Pentagon complained that it divulged classified information.

The congressionally appointed panel contends that the 262-page report is based only on public sources, and several commission officials say they believe the Defense Department was annoyed because their conclusions include harsh criticism of some elements of Rumsfeld's plan for streamlining the military.

An official involved in the discussions, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the Pentagon's primary complaint appeared to be that the report specified Bulgaria and Romania as countries U.S. forces would rotate through for training, rather than using a more vague regional identification such as Eastern Europe.

The Overseas Basing Commission released a partial version of the report at a news conference on May 9, but now the panel has removed that version from its Web site because of the Pentagon's complaints.

The controversy was first reported yesterday by Newsweek.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the Defense Department's objections are not about the panel's views but about release of classified information. "The commission was informed and agreed to the requirement to submit their report for a security review in advance of releasing it," Whitman said. "Their failure to do so appears to have resulted in unauthorized disclosure of classified information. When the department raised concerns over its premature posting to the Internet, the commission removed the report. The department has initiated appropriate procedures for security breaches of this nature and also notified the congressional sponsors of this commission."

The commission chairman, Al Cornella, a Republican, said in an interview that he was trying to cooperate but that he had not agreed to have the Pentagon clear the report in advance. "The commission is confident that everything in our report was obtained from unclassified sources or settings," he said.

According to e-mails that an official involved in the dispute read to The Washington Post, Barry Pavel, the Defense Department's director of strategy on global posture, wrote to Cornella on May 7 to warn of "the potential need to conduct an investigation regarding violation of security classification procedures, including the IT-related aspects (eg, possibly having to clean your servers, etc)."

Commission officials said they took that as a threat to revoke their security clearances and to bring military police or information technology agents to their Arlington offices.

Of course, since the story was reported in Newsweek, the junta will claim that it's all lies.

 

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